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Submission to the HSE on Cervical Check

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You may recall the controversy earlier this year relating to the HSE using the meaningless term ‘anyone with a cervix’ instead of ‘woman’ in its cervical screening literature.

The National Screen Service Communications Working Group is now reviewing the language used – if you think the word ‘woman’ should be reinstated, please email before Monday.

This is our submission.

We are writing to you on behalf of an advocacy group, The Countess, whose members are women in Ireland from all backgrounds and walks of life. We advocate for, and centre women and children.  Unlike the National Womens Council we do not believe a woman is “anyone who identifies as a woman”. 

Quite the opposite in fact, we recognise the physical, social and economical consequences of being born female in Ireland and why therefore, we require law and policy to recognise our specific needs for fairness, privacy, dignity and safety. It is important we as women maintain ownership of the language to describe ourselves. Otherwise, we are erased.

We feel strongly that the term “anyone with a cervix” is an insult to women. It is dehumanising at worst and confusing at best. It is dangerous because although everyone with a cervix knows they are a woman not every woman knows they have a cervix.In this regard, our views align with those of the eminent obstetrician gynaecologist Dr Peter Boylan who has stated publicly, that anything other than the word “woman” is confusing. We call for the word “woman” to replace the new terminology that was ill-judged and ideologically driven. There is no place for ideology in public health.